Idaho State Tax Commission

Printing and Publishing

This guide explains Idaho sales and use tax for commercial printers. Commercial printers are retailers who produce printed materials that they'll sell. This guide refers to commercial printers and publishers as "printers."

As a printer, you must have a valid seller's permit, collect sales tax, file a sales tax return and forward the tax to the Tax Commission. See our Retailers guide for information about getting an Idaho seller's permit, doing business in Idaho and much more.

Note: This guide doesn't apply to a business operating a private printing press that prints material only for the business's own use.

Income tax note: For multistate income tax apportionment, see Income Tax Rule 580.01.f.

Sales

The total amount you charge for most printed materials is taxable. This includes what you charge for labor and services to make a finished product, even if the materials are owned by your customer.

Taxable sales

As a printer, you'll charge tax on such things as:

  • Artwork printed on a physical item (e.g., mugs, T-shirts) or delivered on physical storage media
  • Printing or imprinting on a physical material
  • Digital books, when the buyer has a permanent right to use
  • Mats and matting services
  • Typography
  • Binding and finishing services
  • Setting and composition charges, both by hand and machine
  • Design fees that are included in making a finished product (e.g., stationery, business cards, signs)
    Note: If you only charge a fee to create a design (e.g., logo) for your customer — without anything else — it's not taxable since there's no transfer of tangible personal property
  • Engraving
    Note: You must charge tax on engraving fees even if the item you're working on is the customer's own property.
  • Author's alterations and corrections (e.g., design, content)
  • Vending machine sales from a machine the customer operates (e.g., self-service photocopiers, printers, engraving machines)

Charge tax on advertising inserts.

  • Selling to an advertiser who's using the inserts to promote their business or product is a taxable sale. The inserts aren't for resale. The advertiser must pay sales tax.
  • Contracting with an advertiser to distribute their inserts to locations in Idaho is a taxable sale. It's a sale to the advertiser who determines where the inserts are going. The advertiser must pay sales tax.

An advertising insert is printed advertising distributed together with but printed separately from a newspaper, magazine, or other publication.

Nontaxable sales

Some services related to mailing printed materials aren't taxable. These services include:

  • Addressing
  • Stamping
  • Supplying or attaching government postage
  • Sealing
  • Inserting or wrapping property into direct-mail advertising

Sales of advertising spots that are displayed or circulated in your newspaper or magazine aren't taxable.

You must list these charges separately on the customer's invoice, or the charges are taxable.

Exempt sales
Sales to manufacturers, producers or wholesalers

Manufacturers, producers and wholesalers can buy the following without paying tax:

  • Labels or name plates (including the printing on them) when used to put on their own product or container
  • Items that accompany manufactured products when sold to the ultimate consumer (e.g., packing inserts, individual folding boxes, setup boxes)
  • Items supplied to the customer when the product is sold (e.g., direction sheets, instruction books, manuals, pamphlets)
Sales to Idaho or U.S. government agencies

Sales billed to and paid directly by the U.S. federal government or an Idaho government agency (state, county or city) are exempt. They can pay the charges by check, credit card or cash. The qualifying agency must give you a completed Form ST-101, Sales Tax Resale or Exemption Certificate. Or, when they pay with cash, they can use a Form ST-104G, Sales Tax Exemption Claim for Cash Purchases by Government Agencies.

Sales to exempt organizations

Qualifying organizations can buy printed items exempt when they pay or are billed for it directly. The sale is taxable if employees pay the charges themselves, even if they are later reimbursed by an exempt organization. Qualified organizations are listed in Idaho Code section 63-3622O and on Form ST-101, Sales Tax Resale or Exemption Certificate. The organization must give you a completed Form ST-101.

Sales to certain nonprofits

Sales of printed literature to a nonprofit can qualify for the exemption if all of these apply:

  • The nonprofit both publishes and sells the literature.
  • Profits of the organization don't benefit any private person or shareholder.
  • The literature is in one of the following formats:
    • Books
    • Periodicals
    • Pamphlets
    • Tracts
    • Audio
    • Video
    • Machine-readable media

The nonprofit must give you a completed Form ST-101, Sales Tax Resale or Exemption Certificate.

Page last updated July 25, 2019. Last full review of page: July 25, 2019.

This information is for general guidance only. Tax laws are complex and change regularly. We can't cover every circumstance in our guides. This guidance may not apply to your situation. Please contact us with any questions. We work to provide current and accurate information. But some information could have technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. If there's a conflict between current tax law and this information, current tax law will govern.